IN-STORE EVENTS at HOUSMANS
We regularly have a variety of events in the shop, and are always welcome for suggestions from authors, artists and campaigners who want to use the shop for evening events. Past events include talks, book signings, film screenings, art exhibitions and musical performances.
‘October 1917 –Workers in Power’
with Paul Le Blanc
Friday 24th February, 7pm
Free entry: register for ticket at eventbrite
Paul Le Blanc visits Housmans to to dispel some of the myths surrounding the Russian Revolution, highlighting its profoundly proletarian democratic nature and therefore giving readers a fresh glimpse of the events of October 1917.
"October 1917: Workers in Power” provides a stimulating starting-point for centennial reassessment of the Russian revolution. Paul Le Blanc provides a sparkling and authoritative survey of major historical studies; David Mandel expertly analyses workers’ control in the Russian upheaval. Classic assessments of the October upheaval by Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky and more recently, Ernest Mandel round out this important addition to socialist literature on 1917."
- John Riddell, editor of eight-volume documentary series on the world revolutionary movement in Lenin’s time and ecosocialist activist.
"The massive publicity given to right wing anti-communist work, and the identification between Stalinism and Bolshevism, means that the dominant way of looking at the Russian Revolution in the year of its centenary is a deeply flawed one. The collection edited by Paul Le Blanc has the great merit of bringing to life the proletarian democratic character of the Russian revolution minimizing the acrimonious polemical tone. This will help the lay readers to have a fresh glimpse of what happened in Russia, 1917. Le Blanc’s introduction sets the tone, by laying out an elaborate survey of the historiography of the Russian revolution from 1918 to the present. Several essays highlight the absurdity of the counterfactual about how totalitarian Bolshevism pushed out liberal democracy, by stressing that crucial elements of democracy were absent from the anti revolutionary side. For an objective study of 1917, not uncritical, but firmly rooted in the revolutionary tradition, this book can be unhesitatingly recommended." -Soma Marik, author of Revolutionary Democracy: Emancipation in Classical Marxism, Haymarket and IIRE (forthcoming, 2017).
"The Russian Revolution of October 1917 gave hope to millions of exploited and oppressed around the world, by showing that working people could take society into their own hands. This collection, containing both texts by participants and retrospective historical analyses, defends the achievements of the Revolution while honestly recognizing its limitations, and will stimulate informed discussion."- Ian Birchall, socialist historian.
"This is an important collection celebrating the legacy of the Russian Revolution in its centenary year. Paul Le Blanc’s Introduction provides rich historical context for past events. But the book is really about the future. It is an effort to nourish the lessons of past such that they may irrigate new struggles of the future." - Tithi Bhattacharya, Professor of History, Purdue University; editorial board member, International Socialist Review.
"A fascinating and unexpected collection of materials that shine a needed light on the workers revolution of 1917. The centerpiece is David Mandel’s classic essay ‘The historical legitimacy of the October Revolution’, one of the best ever statements of the meaning of a central aspect of the revolution: worker support for soviet power. Longer essays by the two Mandels – David and Ernest – fill out the book. Extremely useful is Paul Le Blanc’s guide to some of the best (and some of the worst) accounts of the tumultuous year. And finally, we have the eloquent words of revolutionary participants: Lenin, Luxemburg, and Trotsky. All in all, a spirited defence of the October revolution at a time when many people would like to forget all about it."- Lars Lih, author of Lenin Rediscovered: What is to be Done? in Context, Haymarket 2008.
About the Author
Paul Le Blanc is an American historian and activist. Professor of History at La Roche College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA), he has written and/or edited more than 20 books, mostly dealing with the labor and socialist movements, in which he has been active.
‘1956:John Saville, E.P. Thompson and The Reasoner’
with Paul Flewers
Wednesday 1st March, 7pm
Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase
1956 was a year of political drama. It saw the Anglo-French seizure of the Suez Canal, Nikita Khrushchev’s Secret Speech, denouncing Stalin,unrest across Eastern Europe and the Russian invasion of Hungary.
This book discusses the convulsions which enveloped the Communist Party of Great Britain in the aftermath of Khrushchev’s revelations. It reprints the text of The Reasoner for the first time in 60 years. It tells the story of this dissident journal and its editors: John Saville and E.P. Thompson. The Reasoner proved critical in organising opposition to Stalinism in the Communist Party.
• Original essays explore how the events of 1956 came about, their impact on British Communism and the political thinking of Saville and Thompson
• The editors have provided detailed notes on each issue and a selection of documents from both the party leadership and its
Meticulously evidenced, thought-provoking and iconoclastic, this text will be essential reading for all those seeking to understand British Communism and the politics of Marxism in the second half of the twentieth century.
About the Speaker
Paul Flewers is the author of The New Civilisation? Understanding Stalin’s Soviet Union 1929-1941 and an editor of Revolutionary History.
NOVARA MEDIA EVENT
‘Novara FM Live at Housmans’
with Aaron Bastani and James Butler
POSTPONED TILL LATER IN THE YEAR...
Housmans are excited to announce that radio show Novara FM, broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM, will be recorded live from the shop once a month. So as to keep the event as up the minute with political changes, the subject of discussion and other guest speakers will be announced a week before the talk.
Novara FM is a weekly radio show hosted by members of the Novara Media team, including Aaron Bastani and James Butler. An independent media organisation, Novara Media addresses the issues – from the crisis of capitalism to racism and climate change – that are set to define the 21st Century. Within that context their goal is to tell stories and provide analysis shaped by the political uncertainties of the age, elevating critical perspectives unlikely to be found elsewhere.
Driven to build a new media for a different politics, Novara Media’s journalism is always politically committed; rather than seeking to moderate between two sides of a debate, their output actively intends to feed back into political action.
Over the last five years Novara Media has produced hundreds of podcasts, videos and articles, reaching a combined audience of millions and gaining a huge following amongst activists and members of the radical left.
You can listen to Novara FM’s podcasts here: http://novaramedia.com/category/audio/
About the Hosts
Aaron Bastani is responsible for audio at Novara Media, often hosting Novara FM. He also presents regular videos reports, interviews and his opinion series IMOBastani. Aaron holds a doctorate in political science from Royal Holloway’s New Political Communications Unit and is currently working on a book about Fully Automated Luxury Communism. Aaron also enjoys football, design and cooking.
James Butler presents Novara FM and the video series Terms of Engagement. His intellectual interests include political theory, the history of social movements and the relationship between literature and politics.
Entry £3 + free beer
Tickets essential, available from eventbrite – link to be announced shortly
‘The End of Politicians’
with Brett Hennig
Wednesday 15th March, 7pm
Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase
The truth is out: we don’t need politicians to govern us any more. We can fix our broken politics and create a democracy fit for the twenty-first century without them.
The information revolution is disrupting every aspect of society. Newspaper sales plummet. Television watching declines. Book publishing is being transformed. Networks expand and proliferate throughout our workplaces and our everyday lives.
Politics is also in line for a major disruption. The new norms of participation, inclusiveness and open communication are infiltrating democracy and the era of politicians is coming to an end. The time is ripe to remake democracy for the twenty-first century.
Brett’s The End of Politicians is a succinct, inspiring, and carefully researched book, which outlines how to fix our broken politics. Combining jaw-dropping insights from the history of democracy with a critical understanding of the current information revolution, it explains how a real democracy would eliminate politicians and replace them with a representative network of randomly selected, ordinary citizens. The surprising evidence from the many recent citizens’ assemblies is that they work: ordinary people can and do make good, informed, and balanced decisions. The tantalising possibility that we can govern ourselves has presented itself – it’s time for the end of politicians.
Come and hear about an alternative to our tired electoral democracy, about the groups experimenting with new ways of doing democracy (in particular the UK's first G1000) and the campaign to institute this democratic alternative by putting deliberating, informed, ordinary citizens back into politics.
"Darn! This is the book I wish I had written. Compelling, inspiring, evidence-based. Hennig explains how democracy got us into this mess, and how we can fix it." – Professor Lyn Carson, The University of Sydney, Director of the newDemocracy Foundation
"Do you believe holding elections every couple of years means you live in a democracy? Short, powerfully argued and carefully researched, Hennig shows how elections have for a long time been known to serve the interests of the powerful – and how ordinary citizens can regain control of their government." – Professor Manuel Arriaga, New York University, author of Rebooting Democracy: A Citizen's Guide to Reinventing Politics
"Hennig takes stock of democracy in the past and present. His bold assessment will enable us to step out of the shadows of the political elite. Hennig does not stop there, however. In a fast-forward to the future, he outlines ways and systems that will make the dream of democracy come true. This book is an energy drink for social action." – Dr Bettina Wittneben, Research Associate, University of Oxford
"The End of Politicians provides a powerful critique of the democratic deficits inherent in all forms of electoral democracy. But it does much more than explore the undemocratic qualities of electoral democracy; it proposes a compelling and provocative alternative – the random selection of ordinary citizens to serve as fully empowered legislators. Whether one agrees with this or not, the clarity of the argument will generate productive debate."
– Professor Erik Olin Wright, University of Wisconsin–Madison, author of Envisioning Real Utopias
About the author
Brett Hennig is a director and co-founder of the Sortition Foundation whose aim is to promote the ideas within The End of Politicians: Time for a Real Democracy and institute the use of stratified, random selection (also called sortition) in government.
Before co-founding the Sortition Foundation, Brett wore a variety of hats: as a taxi driver, a software engineer, a social justice activist, a mathematics tutor, and the primary carer of four boys; he finished his PhD in astrophysics just before his first son arrived.
After spending several disheartening years trying to influence political decisions, both from within and without the system, he became inspired by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s trilogy on political philosophy and began investigating and researching network forms of democracy. The End of Politicians: Time for a Real Democracy is the result of those years of work.
‘The Punk Kings of Dyslexia’
with Stephen Micalef
Wednesday 29th March, 7pm
Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase
An evening with infamous poet and punk-zine writer Stephen Micalef, who will be reading from his book The Punk Kings of Dyslexia, and talking all things Sniffin' Glue.
Stephen went under the moniker ‘Steve Mick’ when he wrote for Mark P’s legendary Punk fanzine, Sniffin’ Glue for ten months, up until May ’77. He was there practically at the inception of Punk and we glimpse through his writings, the times, the bands, the scene. It is a unique insight.
The poems in The Punk Kings of Dyslexia are written in his handwriting alongside a transcript of each and the book is a limited edition of 500, each copy being hand-numbered.
"40 years ago I was stapling our mag Sniffin’ Glue at the back of a new shop just opened by Geoff Travis in Kensington Park Road. In a wet walled curtained grotto behind the Rough Trade record shop counter I was collating the photocopied sheets when a bloke from The Times Education Supplement, Juri Gabriel, who’d just been to see The Damned, popped his head round the curtain & asked Mark Perry & me for an interview.
We went to cafe round the corner & I wrote a few words for him about what Punk meant to me : “you’ve gotta hate the past to create something new.” He suggested I try for Oxford, so I did. Punk utterly changed my life and these poems are a testament to my 10 months at the heart of Punk Rock, from August 1976 – May 1977.’"
AKA Steve Mick
‘Sound System: The Political Power of Music’
with Dave Randall
Wednesday 5th April, 7pm
Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase
Musicians have often wanted to change the world, and many—from underground grime artists to mainstream pop icons—channel that desire through the political power of music. Music has a unique ability to unsettle the most fundamental political and social conventions—or, alternatively, to stabilize the status-quo.
Sound System is the story of one musician’s journey to discover what exactly makes music so powerful. Years of touring, protesting, and performing have given Dave Randall an insider’s view of the music industry, enabling him to shed light on the most tightly held secrets of celebrity, commodification, and culture.
He finds remarkable examples of music as a force of social change as well as something that has been used to keep people in their place throughout history. From the Glastonbury Festival to the Arab Spring, Pop Idol to Trinidadian Carnival, Randall finds political inspiration across the musical spectrum.
A blistering, intelligent polemic about the political power of music, Sound System investigates the raves, riots, and revolution of contemporary culture to answer the question—how can we make music serve the interest of the many, rather than the few?
"This engaging, hugely readable book…should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in the state of the world—and in the essential, life-affirming role music can play in changing it for the better." - Tom Robinson, BBC 6 Music
"A thrilling trip through the dark corners and secret gardens of the music world! Randall leaves no stone unturned and has produced a work of rare insight." - Maxi Jazz, lead vocalist for Faithless
"Fascinating… A deeply intelligent look at music and society and in particular pop’s tempestuous relationship with commerce. Thought provoking, readable and clever stuff." – Mark Radcliffe, BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music
"What an imaginative idea, what a terrific, exciting book, weaving together the strands of music, politics and worldwide struggles." – Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
About the Author
Dave Randall is a musician and activist. He was the former guitarist in Faithless and has toured the world playing guitar with Dido, Sinead O’Connor and many others.